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Ken Hill's Slapstick Phantom A Right Carry On

November 7th 2000
Written for the Coventry Evening Telegraph by Peter Magill

KEN HILL'S PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until November 11. Running time: 90min.

ONLY the eponymous hero appears able to keep a straight face in the late Ken Hill's knockabout version of Phantom of the Opera. Owing more to Carry On than Andrew Lloyd Webber, the tale is retold with gusto by a lively cast, armed with off-the-cuff one-liners and pithy put- downs. The Phantom (Michael McCarthy) puts in a superlative performance and is perhaps the only character whose solos could overcome the booming accompaniment. Christine (Sarah Ryan) won over the first-night crowd with affecting numbers but she was all too frequently enshrouded in dry ice. It does tend to ruin the big numbers when the first five rows are having coughing fits. Slapstick too often prevailed but the sheer entertainment factor might be enough to win over the doubters.